Savory fillings baked in thin flaky pastry dough known as phyllo or yufka are popular throughout southeastern Europe, a legacy of the Ottoman Empire. We can freely say that “burek” is national meal in Bosnia. It is one of our favorite meals and we are proud of it. Using commercially produced filo dough is an insult to a true Bosnian, but who has time to make it from scratch? Not me.
This meal is ordinary called “pita” (pie) but this word collects more variations to the filling in one big family: cheese, spinach, potato, squash/zucchini and even apple. (Look up my Bosnian cheese pie recipe). However, I want to set one thing straight though – many fellow countrymen mistakenly call all pies burek. Burek with cheese, burek with meat…This is WRONG! Only meat pita is called burek! The others are called cheese pita, potato pita etc.We are not talking about tomato, tomatho here people! It is not optional! Get it right! There, I said it.
1 package Filo Dough
3 medium Onions, chopped (try Leeks instead)
2/3 cup Oil
1 pound ground Beef
1 cup Sour Cream
Salt and Black Pepper, to season
1 tablespoon Vegeta (dry mixture of spices and vegetables) – optional
Sauté onions in a large skillet over medium high heat until translucent. Do not overcook them; they’ll finish cooking in the oven. I like leeks, and I always substitute 1 large or 2 small leeks for the three onions. Add ground beef, salt, pepper and of course Vegeta if you’re lucky to have access to this seasoning (Found in the international isle at Meijer or specialty stores).
Simmer for 15 minutes and let cool. Beat eggs with sour cream and mix with the ground beef and onion mixture.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 9×13 baking pan generously with oil. Starting and finishing with the filo dough, layer sheets of dough and meat mixture until meat is used up. Brush each sheet of dough with oil in the process. Brush the top of pastry with remaining oil. (Don’t worry if you have a lot of oil left, this dish needs it). Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until cooked through and golden brown in color. Serve with buttermilk or Balkan style yogurt (like Greek) for authenticity.
Jas is a cheesecake addict and the author of Balkan Comfort Food cookbook available on Amazon. You can download a free excerpt of the book when you subscribe to All that's Jas newsletter updates. To learn more about Jas visit her About page.
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